‘A rogue among rogues’

2015-03-11 00:00

A “ROGUE policeman working with a whole bunch of rogue policemen”.

This was how former Mountain Rise policeman Sugen Naidoo described himself while under cross examination in the high court trial where his alleged former friend, Rajivee Soni, is on trial for the murder of Dr Bhavish Sewram.

In response to questions by Soni’s defence attorney, Naren Sangham, ­Naidoo agreed that he is a “self-confessed drug addict, an extortionist, fraudster, thief and liar”.

“You are a person who is totally ­undesirable to be a member of the SA Police Services,” Sangham said to him, to which Naidoo replied; “I agree with you … totally undesirable”.

He said he considered the crimes he admittedly committed during his “long and notorious career” to be normal because of the “atmosphere” he worked in at Mountain Rise, where corruption was rife.

Naidoo however disputed that he had left the SAPS last year because he had “become an embarrassment”.

Instead he said he left because he couldn’t live with himself for playing a part in “what led to the death of the deceased” (Sewram).

Naidoo spent four days in the witness box testifying about a campaign allegedly orchestrated by Soni and himself to make the doctor’s life a “living hell”, because Soni suspected Sewram of having an affair with his wife. Naidoo also alleged he became aware that Soni offered an ex-policeman, Brian Treasurer, sums of R80 000 and R150 000 to shoot Sewram prior to the doctor’s murder on May 13, 2013.

Naidoo yesterday told Judge Jacqueline Henriques and assessor Gerhard Barnard that Soni was “affiliated to a lot of top management” at Mountain Rise police station.

He testified he had introduced Soni to Mountain Rise commander Brigadier Francis Bantham and that she and Soni “became friends”.

“After I made my statement in this case [to the Hawks] Brigadier Bantham approached me on many occasions and asked if I had made a statement regarding this murder … On one occasion she even told me that Soni is not guilty and he will walk this case,” said Naidoo.

Naidoo said he was advised by Hawks investigator Bala Naidoo not to divulge he had made a statement and he did not tell Bantham he had done so.

On another occasion, in reply to Sangham’s questions, Naidoo said he was not afraid of being investigated (over scams involving him at Mountain Rise) because he “always dealt with senior officers at the police station” and believed he would be protected because they were “part of the scam”.

Pressed for names he mentioned Colonel Wyles and Captain Pipes Haffajee.

Naidoo denied repeated defence suggestions that he and his ex-wife (Captain Norman), who is also stationed at Mountain Rise had run a “joint venture” to extort members of the public at Mountain Rise, while admitting that he personally did this.

Naidoo said he and his wife are divorced but currently live together.

He rejected as a “total lie” Sangham’s suggestion that Captain Haffajee conducted an undercover operation which revealed that he and his wife had been “engaged in taking dockets, extorting people and destroying dockets” at Mountain Rise.

Naidoo admitted that he was regularly paid by attorneys to “make a plan” so their clients would get bail.

He said attorneys knew that after hours “this was the normal practice at Mountain Rise”.

Even Sewram’s attorney had paid him R1 000 for Sewram to get bail (when the doctor was arrested on a false sexual assault case), he said.

He also admitted regularly extorting “complainants and accused” who wanted their cases pursued or charges dropped. However, he told the court he “never sold dockets or did anything corrupt with a docket”.

Naidoo admitted that he is also a state witness in a pending Road Accident Fund fraud case, in which his former mistress, local attorney Naleni Atwaru, and Dr Terrence Govender are charged.

Naidoo said he received “R300 000 or R400 000” out of the scam.

The case is proceeding.

Sugen Naidoo drew laughter ­yesterday when he testified that defence lawyer, Naren Sangham, is the reason he was able to stay in the police force.

“I was charged for assault and attempted murder and you ­defended me and I got off,” he told Sangham, who replied that he “can’t recall that”.

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